Sunday, June 30, 2019

Recession On The Way? Trump Will Make It Worse With Another Massive Tax Cut For The Rich


Trump has an even worse one in mind now

Trump wants to put through another big tax cut for the wealthy before the election and Bloomberg News is reporting that the regime thinks it can be done without approval from Congress— which certainly wouldn’t be coming. The plan is “to cut taxes by indexing capital gains to inflation. Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin explained how the plan is designed to give 86% of its benefits to the one percent, by significantly reducing taxes on long-held investments. “Currently,” she wrote, “when an asset like real estate or a stock is sold, tax is paid on the appreciation tied to inflation. So while corporate stock with dividends held for 10 years would be hit with an effective tax rate of 24.3% at present, the White House plan— which may be advanced “soon”— would mean the same holding would be subject to a tax rate of 21.4%, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. The move would reduce tax revenue by an estimated $102 billion over a decade and the benefits would almost exclusively go to the wealthiest people in the country.”

Trump thinks he can do it by executive order, which would probably not even pass muster in this Supreme Court. But Trump knows he has to do something since it’s no secret that the Trump Recession is in it’s early stages now. Axios’ charts show a normal yield curve which is a result of confident investor betting on longer term (higher yielding) Treasury bonds. If investors fear a recession, they'll settle for lower yields on long-term debt. The curve "inverts" when short-term yields are higher— i.e., an inverted yield curve. And, alas, the difference between short- and long-term yields has inverted this year, almost a guaranteed bet on a recession around the corner (between 6 months and two years).
The U.S. Treasury yield curve has now been inverted for more than a month— meaning the 3-month bill is paying a higher interest rate than the 10-year note.

Why it matters: An inversion of Treasury bond yields is a near-perfect recession indicator that economists at the Federal Reserve recently called "the best summary measure" for an economic downturn.

How it works: Investors demand higher payment for loaning out money for longer periods of time. Bonds are essentially loans, so it follows that a bond that does not return a lender's cash for 10 years would pay more than one that returns the cash in 3 months.
An inversion of the Treasury curve means the exact opposite is happening. Either investors see a higher chance they'll get paid back in 10 years than in 3 months by the U.S. government (the world's most secure borrower), or they see inflation being so flat that money invested today will be worth a little less in 10 years than it is worth in 3 months.
Neither says positive things about the market's view of the economy.
The yield curve inverted in March and in May, but for very short periods of time, and other parts of the curve inverted as far back as December.

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Foreign Correspondent: The ‘Trump Doctrine’ Is Sinking Fast


U.S. sanctions have caused the cost of some food items to jump 3 times in the last year. Here, bakers in Isfahan.
by Reese Erlich

The Iranian government saw the President’s vacillation as a sign of weakness, one journalist tells me, “Iran was ready to retaliate on an unbelievable scale.”
-by Reese Erlich

Tehran resident Dariush is exactly the kind of person that the Trump Administration claims to be supporting. He is a middle-class businessman who hates the clerical regime. The White House thinks Iranians like Dariush would welcome the overthrow of their government. But when I talked to Dariush by phone, he was more angry at President Donald Trump.

Dariush’s mother requires regular injections of medicine. The cost of the drug has increased threefold in the past year, and he must buy it for her on the black market. He blames inflation on the US sanctions: “They are just hurting normal people.”

I ask his reaction to Trump’s on-again, off-again threats of war against Iran. “If a war happens,” he says, “I will defend my country. I don’t like my government, but I will fight.”

Over the past several weeks, the Trump Administration has managed to infuriate ordinary Iranians, traditional US allies, and US war hawks. The emerging “Trump Doctrine” uses economic sanctions and tariffs to bully other countries, accompanied by fiery threats of military action without actual attacks. Not only is the doctrine foolhardy, it isn’t working.

Of ships and drones

Since May, six oil tankers in the Persian Gulf area have come under attack. The Trump Administration immediately blamed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps for attaching mines to the ships, and provided grainy video as evidence. Iran denies attacking the tankers.

Then, on June 20, Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone, which cost an estimated $130 million. The US claimed the drone was flying over international waters. Iranian officials said the drone entered Iranian airspace and displayed drone wreckage at a press conference to bolster their argument.

The next day, in a bizarre sequence of events, Trump ordered the Pentagon to attack an Iranian missile battery, and then called back the planes at the last minute. He claimed this was because he had learned the raid could cause 150 Iranian casualties, but an investigation by the Daily Beast revealed he had known the body count prior to green-lighting the attack.

Rightwing hawks in the U.S. criticized Trump for calling off the attack. Liberal Democrats pointed out that he started the whole mess by withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Trump supporters tried to pass off the flip flop as a brilliant tactical move that threw the Iranians off balance.

In fact, the Iranian government saw Trump’s vacillation as a sign of weakness, according to a Tehran journalist with close government ties, who is not authorized to speak to the media.

“Iran was ready to retaliate on an unbelievable scale,” the journalist tells me in a phone interview. “After the first US missile launch, Trump wouldn't be able to control the consequences, not only in the Persian Gulf but from Saudi Arabia to Israel.”

So, instead of dropping bombs on Iran, Trump announced new sanctions claiming to seize financial assets of top officials such as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Since the sanctioned leaders don’t have western bank accounts or other such assets, the sanctions mean nothing.

Yet they were an insult not only to Iran but to Shia Muslims, according to William Beeman, an Iran expert at the University of Minnesota.

“Ayatollah Khamenei is Iran's spiritual leader,” he says. “Trump is attacking Shia Islam itself with this move, and that is how it will be interpreted in Iran.”

The Trump Doctrine

Now the Trump Administration is caught in a bind of its own creation. It would have great difficulty invading and occupying Iran because of the huge financial cost and potential for an astronomical death toll on both sides. So-called limited military strikes can destroy installations, but they also rally people to support their government.

Unilateral sanctions won’t work either because, among other reasons, no European or Asian country supports them. Harsh sanctions can cause a lot of human suffering, but they won’t lead Iranians to rise up and install a pro-US regime.

So Trump is stuck trying to come up with new sanctions and ever more bombastic ways to threaten military assaults without actually doing so. Trump has turned Teddy Roosevelt’s famous slogan on its head: talk loudly but carry a teensy-weensy stick.

Of course it’s possible that Trump’s ultra-right wing advisors will persuade him to launch an attack, according to Professor Foad Izadi, an expert on US-Iran relations at the University of Tehran. If he did, he tells me by phone, “There would be a major military response.” Iran can't afford to look weak, he says. “The US must understand the cost is high.”

More crises ahead

The European signers of the nuclear accord, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, object to the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear accord and oppose unilateral US sanctions. But they haven’t done anything in practice to live up to the legally binding agreement.

Iran has given those countries until July 8 to lift their de facto sanctions on Iran, specifically, to facilitate trade in Iranian oil and gas. Russia and China have taken such steps, so could Europe.

If nothing changes by July 8, Izadi says, Iran will take a number of calibrated steps to increase the amount of enriched uranium used for generating electrical power, and increase the level of enrichment to as high as 60 percent. That would bring Iran closer to the 90 percent level needed to produce a nuclear bomb. Even with enough uranium for a bomb, however, experts say Iran has no ability to build one. Iran would increase production as a bargaining chip.

How Trump could end the crisis

In keeping with Trump's doctrine of avoiding large troop commitments, I offer the following handy hints on how to resolve the Iran crisis:
Fire National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other hawks whose bankrupt policies will lead to yet another war in the Middle East. The US now has acting heads of the Defense Department, Homeland Security and dozens of other agencies. Nobody will notice a new acting National Security Advisor or a missing Secretary of State.
Declare that his campaign of “maximum pressure” is a great success and has forced Iran not to build nuclear weapons. Then rejoin the 2015 nuclear accord, which does exactly that.
In further celebration of the U.S. victory and Trump’s brilliant tactics, lift all unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran.
In a man-to-man summit with President Hassan Rouhani, Trump should sit down for serious negotiations on a grand bargain. The comprehensive agreement could create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, pull all foreign troops out of Syria, normalize U.S.-Iran diplomatic relations and help combat terrorist organizations such as ISIS.
You don’t think such plans would work? Hey, they have no worse chance than Trump’s current policy plans.

                                                                   * * * *

Remember Trump's "plan of the century" that would solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict once and for all? Well, the White House finally revealed the plan this week at a meeting in Bahrain. The plan promises Palestinians economic improvements through $50.7 billion in foreign aid and private investments, although the U.S. would provide no funds.

There's no mention of the key political issues such as creating a Palestinian state, stopping settlements and returning occupied West Bank land, the status of Jerusalem or returning the Golan to Syria. The plan was denounced by all Palestinian political parties and leaders. The plan is an insult to the Palestinians and everyone else in the Middle East.

But when it comes to Trump grand plans, what else is new?

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Will A Court Allow Duncan Hunter To Avoid Prison Time In Return For Resigning From Congress? Darrell Issa Is Waiting


Drunkin' Hunter & DJ Trumpanzee

Duncan Hunter and his wife misappropriated at least a quarter million dollars from campaign funds to use for their lavish lifestyle. Hunter has decided his best defense was to blame his wife for stealing the money without his knowledge. The problem with that strategy is that he was using some of the money to pay hookers/lobbyists and carry on affairs with various women. But his lawyers have come up with a way around that damning evidence of malfeasance. They’re asking the court to exclude the evidence that he was using the stolen funds during extramarital affairs because the relationships with at least five women "often served an overtly political purpose."

The lawyers said the evidence would embarrass Hunter since it “reflects poorly on his character” and would prejudice a jury against him. I’ve never heard anything so judicially insane in my life. It’s like saying that evidence of the murder can’t be used because it would prejudice the jury against the defendant and reflect badly on his character and would embarrass him. Hunter is obviously at the end of his rope and is probably negotiating behind the scenes too resign from Congress in return for leniency.

Most of the facts about Hunter were widely know during the 2018 campaign. But Hunter still managed to win in a deep red (PVI is R+11, where Trump beat Hillary 54.6% to 39.6%) San Diego area district. It was a lot closer than anyone thought it would be— 134,362 (51.7%) to 125,448 (48.3%), largely because Hunter ran a smear campaign against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, accusing him of being a Muslim terrorist, even though he is a church-going former Obama administration aide. This false ad was run over and over and over throughout the district, despite being denounced in the national and local media:

Hunter, an untreated alcoholic, is a racist and a rabid Trumpist, who claims he was the first member of Congress to have endorsed Trump. Before being kicked out of the Marine Corps reserves in 2017 Hunter asserted that the American intelligence community was filled with "seditious Obama folks" who "hate Donald Trump" and are trying to undermine the Trump administration. He also described the American government as "Orwellian.” After being indicted on 60 federal charges he was kicked off 3 committees by the House Republican leadership, particularly the Armed Services Committee where his presence was considered a national security risk.

Hunter’s wife has already pleaded guilty and is likely to testify against him if his case ever goes to trial. Meanwhile Campa-Najjar is running for the seat again. But he may never get to take on Hunter. The local and national GOP establishment is encouraging Hunter to resign and there are as many as half a dozen Republicans primarying him, including the mayors of Temecula and El Cajon. Lurking in the background is former congressman Darrell Issa, who was too scared to run last cycle in his own district but would like to get back into Congress to represent a much safer red district. Trump nominated Issa to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency but he hasn’t been confirmed. Ironically, like Campa-Najjar, Issa is also of Arabic heritage.

Nor does he like in the district

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Does Status Quo Joe Want Jamie Dimon As His Treasury Secretary? Bernie Doesn't


Jamie Dimon is the CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank. His net worth is over a billion dollars. Th U.S. Treasury gave JPMorgan $25 billion in taxpayer money to keep the bak afloat in 2008 after Dimon had gambled in speculative mortgages. Many in the Obama administration urged him to appoint Dimon Treasury Secretary but he picked Timothy Geithner instead. Dimon had instant access to the Obama adminstration and he was their favorite bankster. But by 2012 he was describing himself as “barely a Democrat,” and certainly not a Bernie Sanders kind of Democrat. “I’ve gotten disturbed at some of the Democrats anti-business behavior, the attacks on work ethic and successful people. I think it’s very counterproductive… [I]t doesn't mean I don't have their values. I want jobs. I want a more equitable society. I don't mind paying higher taxes… I do think we're our brother's keeper. But I think that… attacking that which creates all things, is not the right way to go about it.”

That which creates all things isn’t likely to be the way Bernie would describe banksters, Dimon or Wall Street and today he responded to an attack on him by Dimon is a tweet. “Jamie Dimon is the billionaire CEO of a Wall Street bank that was fined $13 billion for mortgage fraud, paid a settlement for bribing foreign officials and received a $416 billion taxpayer bailout. Jamie,” he wrote, “Thanks so much for your advice.”

On Friday, Dimon had done a broadcast interview with Yahoo Finance Editor Andy Serwer, punching out at Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and AOC. “Just because it resonates, doesn’t make it right,” Dimon said, when asked about criticism of him and Wall Street by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie and Senator Elizabeth Warren.”
The comments came just before Warren on Friday sent a letter to Dimon raising concerns about the reinstatement of the company’s forced arbitration policy for credit card holders, which disallows customers from holding the bank accountable in court for potential wrongdoing.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill in April, Ocasio-Cortez sat alongside lawmakers who targeted the tens of millions in compensation received by top bank executives, including Dimon, who received $31 million in compensation last year. The ratio between CEO pay and entry-level wages at JPMorgan Chase stands at 381:1, ranking it second highest among the large banks, after Citigroup.

But juxtaposition of CEO and entry-level pay is “comparing apples and oranges,” Dimon tells Yahoo Finance Editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, calling the calculation “a complete waste of time.”

“People don't think clearly about stuff like that,” he adds. “We treat our people well, we educate our people, we give them a huge opportunity— and that's what we should do.”

The minimum starting wage at JPMorgan Chase is $16.50 per hour, though it can start at $18 for workers in high-cost regions. Meanwhile, Bank of America announced in April that its hourly pay will rise to $17 in May and increase to $20 by 2021.

Dimon pointed to the benefits package the company offers entry-level employees, recounting how the company improved its health-care coverage when he found out some employees couldn’t afford the deductibles.

“The second we found out for our lower paid folks making under $60,000 a year, we cut the deductible to the extent that if they do the wellness programs it's effectively zero,” he says.

Dimon also pointed to the competitive pressure that compels him to pay enough to hire and retain effective workers.

“To act like somehow I can steal from them and do a good job at my company is a little bit crazy,” he says.

…According to Dimon, populist critics misrepresent the actions of wealthy people and big banks. Still, he acknowledged these critics tap into genuine discontent held by people struggling to gain access to services like quality education and health care.

“We should acknowledge the problems in society that are causing the anger,” he says.

“But those problems are we can't build infrastructure,” he adds. “Those problems are the inner-city schools are not graduating our kids. Our litigation system is capricious. Health care is huge— we should get all health care to the 40 million people who don't have it.”

Leading progressives Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have attacked Dimon in recent months.

In March, Dimon criticized the potential negative economic consequences of Green New Deal legislation proposed by Ocasio-Cortez. The next day, the freshman New York Congresswoman responded, pointing to Dimon’s participation in a $13 billion settlement over allegations that JPMorgan Chase fraudulently misrepresented the mortgages it was selling to investors ahead of the 2008 recession. She also criticized the bank’s financing of fossil fuel pipelines.

“So maybe they aren’t the best authority on prioritizing economic wellbeing of everyday people & the planet,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Earlier this month, Dimon condemned socialism, saying it “means that the government owns and controls companies” for “political purposes, for jobs and votes.”

Sanders objected to the comments, saying he “didn't hear Jamie Dimon criticizing socialism when Wall Street begged for the largest federal bailout in American history— some $700 billion from the Treasury and even more from the Fed.”

In the interview with Serwer, Dimon said he and JPMorgan Chase grasp the issues facing low-level employees and have sought to improve their lives.

“We understand,” he says. “We have a heart.”
Goal ThermometerKalamazoo area state Rep Jon Hoadley is contesting the 6th congressional district in southwest Michigan, a swing seat currently occupied by serial Trump-Enabler Fred Upton. This morning, Hadley noted that "The absurd difference between CEO pay and average worker pay is indicative of a tax code that prioritizes wealthy people over working people. Basically the opposite of what happened under the Trump tax scam, our tax code should be investing in working people while encouraging investments to do more work."

Kara Eastman is the progressive Democrat running for the GOP-held seat in Omaha. She’snot the Wall Street candidate and not the Cheri Bustos candidate; she’s the grassroots candidate, a mother and a community activist. “The time has come for us,” she told me last night, “to acknowledge the overwhelming power and influence that millionaires and billionaires have in our country. Their voice has been the loudest— resulting in government handouts to corporations while regular working people are continuously held back. It used to be that if you worked hard in the United States, you could support a family— you could get ahead. This is no longer the case. But there are people running to change the system and candidates like me who will never stop fighting for working people.”

Democratic socialist Shaniyat Chowdhury is running for a southeast Queens congressional seat held by corrupt New Dem Gregory Meeks— the Queens County machine boss. Chowdhury has strong beliefs he’ll be bringing with him to Washington. “With all that money,” he told me this morning, “you would think Mr. Dimon would know that socialism actually empowers the people who do the labor. The means of production and profit belong to the people, not billionaires who believe being poor is on a moral compass.”

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Trump Campaign Operatives Making Fake Websites For Democratic Candidates


When you enter the website, the first thing you see is an endorsement from Brad Parscale, Trump’s very Proud Boy-looking campaign manager (above). Yesterday, Vici Media admitted they alerted the Trump campaign, their top client, that they are creating fake web sites targetting Democrats running for their party’s nomination. A Trump campaign spokesperson told the NY Times that it’s "great that talented supporters of President Trump use their time to help his re-election." The Trump campaign won’t cop to paying ViciMedia, which they have on retainer, for creating the fake and misleading websites.

The sites seem suspiciously like the sites created by Russian trolls during the 2016 election cycle. The fake Biden site, for example, is filled with rhetoric geared to sway Democrats from Biden to a less conservative, less racist candidate. In fact, all of the parody websites target the least progressive aspects of each candidate, not unlike the strategy Russian troll accounts took on both liberal and conservative stances to convince both Democrats and Republicans to vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton. Aside from the Biden site, ViciMedia has created fake sites for Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. They’re pretty childish and aimed strictly at the kind of low-IQ Trump supporter who falls for Nigerian prince e-mails. The fake Biden site, however, is still in the second page of Google search results for "Joe Biden," and had more unique visitors than the real campaign webpage through the end of May. “To make the Biden parody site more successful, Mauldin [Vici Media owner] posted repeatedly about it on Reddit, including in the now-quarantined pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald, where he encouraged users to use his dupe to "red pill" Democrats. Red pilling describes exposing people to truths that may be hard to accept, such as in the film The Matrix.”

Mauldin's parody website highlights accusations of Biden's inappropriate behavior toward women, with videos and photos of the candidate touching women and children. It mentions Biden's 2012 remarks saying President Barack Obama "has a big stick."

The website also shares legislative "accomplishments" of when Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 2006, against busing as a way to desegregate schools in the '70s, and for the Iraq War.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Sunday Thoughts:

It's no secret. When Republicans say they welcome all religious denominations, they're talking solely about 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s (Absolutely no Harriet Tubmans, please. No, No. No!), 50s, and 100s. Those who worship Republican Jesus believe in their own Green Deal!

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Almost Forgot To Tell You Who Won The Debates!


I think it was pretty obvious which candidates made a good impression and which candidates made a bad impression and which candidates made no impression at all. My own gut reaction for night one was that Elizabeth Warren cleaned up. No one came close— especially in the first half of the debate. I thought that Julian Castro made a good impression and so did de Blasio, Booker and Jay Inslee. Beto bombed. Klobuchar, Tulsi and Ryan were stiffs. Delaney was the worst. On night two, Biden bombed— as did Frackenlooper, Gillibrand and Pete. Kamala had the outstanding performance (although I was personally unimpressed) and Bernie, Bennet, Swalwell and Yang did alright. Marianne was a love it or hate it situation more than anyone else. That’s how I saw it. Now, let’s see what the viewers thought.

First a poll from Morning Consult for FiveThirtyEight. They measure each candidate’s favorably and unfavorabilty before and after.

Biden’s favorables (76.5% slipped a tiny bit to 75.6% but his unfavorables took a bit more of a hit— from 16.1% to 19.1%.

There wasn’t much movement in Bernieland but it was all good. His favorables went from 74.3% up to 76.3, so he now surpasses Biden. At the same time, his unfavorables went down a fractionally from 17.6% to 17.5%.

Elizabeth Warren had a great situation: Her favorables went from already high 63.4% to a significantly higher 71.4% and her unfavorables also dropped— from 13.5% to 12.5%.

Kamala also had a great night, with her 56.2% favorables going up to 66.9%, huge move, but in doing so, her unfavorables also rose, from 11.3% to 12.8% (worth the trade-off).

It was also a good night for Cory Booker, who vaulted over Beto and Pete. Cory’s 47.0% favorability is now 56.9%. His unfavorables went up from 13.1 to 15.0%.

McKinsey Pete broke out the full-on consultanese and many people bought it. He went from a 44.7 favorable to a 54.1%. His negatives went up though— from 9.5% to 13.3%.

Beto had slight upward movement and more significant downward movement. His 48.4% pre-debate favorability crept top to 50.8% but the unfavorable 12.5% went to 19.2%.

Julian Castro had the biggest movement of anyone— a pre-debate favorability of just 29.3% went to a more competitive 47.8%. Not everyone liked though; his unfavorability went from 9.3% to 11.7%.

Headlines like this one at aren’t helping Biden either: Where's the beef? Biden lacks a compelling vision for America's future. “After weeks of damaging gaffes,” wrote Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton, “Joe Biden delivered a lackluster performance and stumbled during his first debate with the other Democratic candidates. Although one debate does not make or break a campaign, Biden's terrible performance was enough to raise concerns among Democrats about what his campaign is all about and whether he is really the most electable candidate on the bunch. Coming out of the Miami massacre, three big questions loom large about Biden.”
What does he stand for?
Is he the “most electable?”
Is Biden the right Democrat for 2020?
“The Democrat who is most electable will need to define what post-Obama Democratic politics will be about. During the debates, Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg showed that they are thinking about the future of the party, not its past. In Trumpian fashion, Biden seems most centered on praising himself. He has considerable work ahead if he wants to fill out his vision of what Democratic politics will look like in years to come.”

So here’s the list of who Democratic primary voters like most and least— subtracting the negatives from the positives. (The number in parenthesis is the pre-debate number, which allows you to see , for example, that Kamala, Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro gained a lot of ground, while Status Quo Joe and Beto lost ground).
1- Elizabeth Warren- 58.9% (49.9%)
2- Bernie- 58.8% (56.7%)
3- Biden- 56.5% (60.4%)
4- Kamala- 54.1% (44.9%)
5- Booker- 41.9% (33.9%)
6- Pete- 40.8% (35.2%)
7- Julian Castro- 36.1% (20.0%)
8- Beto- 31.6% (35.9%)
9- Klobuchar- 24.4% (19.9%)
10- Gillibrand- 23.5% (21.0%)
11-Yang- 15.0 (15.2%)
12- Inslee- 12.4% (9.1%)
13 (tie)- Tulsi- 10.6% (5.8%)
              Swalwell- 10.6% (9.8%)
15- Michael Bennet- 9.6% (8.6%)
16- Tim Ryan- 8.7% (7.7%)
17- Frackenlooper- 7.7% (7.5%)
18- Delaney- 6.7% (6.8%)
19- de Blasio- 2.4% (-2.1%)
20- Marianne- -2.3% (4.2%)
There’s another way to look at the results of the debates though— the change in the number of Twitter followers from the day before the debate to the day after the debate. That what this chart shows you. And you’ll notice that using that metric the top half dozen winners were Kamala, Julian, Pete, Yang, Marianne and Elizabeth Warren. The half dozen generating the least new Twitter followers: Delaney Beto, Swalwell, Ryan, Frackenlooper and Bennet.

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Why Are Republicans Like Chris Christie Pushing So Hard For A Biden Candidacy?


Funny how so many Republicans are weighing in on the Democratic primary— and how they virtually all want Democrats to nominate Status Quo Joe. I can guarantee you that they don’t have the Democratic Party’s or working families’ best interests at heart. The latest was the out-of-work slob who blocked the George Washington Bridge and got away with it, while his imitate subordinates went to prison for carrying out his orders. Christie was on The View Friday— don’t ask me why— where he told their audience that he’s “said all along that Biden is still the most electable Democrat… We all know 77,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and most of those votes were white, working-class men and women. That’s what [Señor Trumpanzee] won by, and… the question is going to be who is going to be able to appeal to those folks. I’ve known Joe Biden for a long time. And I think he’s a really good person and a good human being. But listen, what he learned last night was, ‘Game on, man. Game on,’ and he wasn’t ready.” He didn’t mention on the air that he’s ready to accept a position in a Biden Cabinet.

Christie’s premise is that (white) working class men and women who voted for Trump are dull-witted enough to fall for the Biden claptrap about being their champion. I don’t see that happening. Neither does Norman Solomon, who used a column at Truthdig last April to point out what a phony Biden has always been— and all that time Christie has known him too… and long before Christie knew him. “Let’s be blunt: As a supposed friend of American workers, Joe Biden is a phony. And now that he’s running for president, Biden’s huge task is to hide his phoniness.” Solomon had no intention of allowing Biden to do that.
From the outset, with dim prospects from small donors, the Biden campaign is depending on big checks from the rich and corporate elites who greatly appreciate his services rendered. “He must rely heavily, at least at first, upon an old-fashioned network of money bundlers— political insiders, former ambassadors and business executives,” the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Biden has a media image that exudes down-to-earth caring and advocacy for regular folks. But his actual record is a very different story.

During the 1970s, in his first Senate term, Biden spouted white backlash rhetoric, used tropes pandering to racism and teamed up with arch segregationists against measures like busing for school integration. He went on to be a fount of racially charged appeals and “predators on our streets” oratory on the Senate floor as he led the successful effort to pass the now-notorious 1994 crime bill.

A gavel in Biden’s hand repeatedly proved to be dangerous. In 1991, as chair of the Judiciary Committee, Biden prevented key witnesses from testifying to corroborate Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. In 2002, as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden was the Senate’s most crucial supporter of the Iraq invasion.

Meanwhile, for well over four decades— while corporate media preened his image as “Lunch Bucket Joe” fighting for the middle class— Biden continued his assist for strengthening oligarchy as a powerful champion of legalizing corporate plunder on a mind-boggling scale.

Now, Joe Biden has arrived as a presidential candidate to rescue the Democratic Party from Bernie Sanders.

Urgency is in the media air. Last week, the New York Times told readers that “Stop Sanders” Democrats were “agonizing over his momentum.” The story was front-page news. At the Washington Post, a two-sentence headline appeared just above a nice photo of Biden: “Far-Left Policies Will Drive a 2020 Defeat, Centrist Democrats Fear. So They’re Floating Alternatives.”

Goal ThermometerBiden is the most reliable alternative for corporate America. He has what Sanders completely lacks— vast experience as an elected official serving the interests of credit-card companies, big banks, insurance firms and other parts of the financial services industry. His alignment with corporate interests has been comprehensive. It was a fulcrum of his entire political career when, in 1993, Sen. Biden voted yes while most Democrats in Congress voted against NAFTA.

In recent months, from his pro-corporate vantage point, Biden has been taking potshots at the progressive populism of Bernie Sanders. At a gathering in Alabama last fall, Biden said: “Guys, the wealthy are as patriotic as the poor. I know Bernie doesn’t like me saying that, but they are.” Later, Biden elaborated on the theme when he told an audience at the Brookings Institution, “I don’t think five hundred billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”

Overall, in sharp contrast to the longstanding and continuing negative coverage of Sanders, mainstream media treatment of Biden often borders on reverential. The affection from so many high-profile political journalists toward Biden emerged yet again a few weeks ago during the uproar about his persistent pattern of intrusively touching women and girls. During one cable news show after another, reporters and pundits were at pains to emphasize his essential decency and fine qualities.

But lately, some independent-minded journalists have been exhuming what “Lunch Bucket Joe” is eager to keep buried. For instance:
Libby Watson, Splinter News: “Joe Biden is telling striking workers he’s their friend while taking money from, and therefore being beholden to, the class of people oppressing them. According to Axios, Biden’s first fundraiser will be with David Cohen, the executive vice president of and principal lobbyist for Comcast. Comcast is one of America’s most hated companies, and for good reason. It represents everything that sucks for the modern consumer-citizen, for whom things like internet or TV access are extremely basic necessities, but who are usually given the option of purchasing it from just one or two companies.” What’s more, Comcast supports such policies as “ending net neutrality and repealing broadband privacy protections... And Joe Biden is going to kick off his presidential campaign by begging for their money.”

Ryan Cooper, The Week: “As a loyal toady of the large corporations (especially finance, insurance, and credit cards) that put their headquarters in Delaware because its suborned government allows them to evade regulations in other states, Biden voted for repeated rounds of deregulation in multiple areas and helped roll back anti-trust policy— often siding with Republicans in the process. He was a key architect of the infamous 2005 bankruptcy reform bill which made means tests much more strict and near-impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.”

Paul Waldman, the American Prospect: “Joe Biden, we are told over and over, is the one who can speak to the disaffected white men angry at the loss of their primacy. He’s the one who doesn’t like abortion, but is willing to let the ladies have them. He’s the one who tells white people to be nice to immigrants, even as he mirrors their xenophobia (‘You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,’ he said in 2006). He’s the one who validates their racism and sexism while gently trying to assure them that they’re still welcome in the Democratic Party. . . . It’s not yet clear what policy agenda Biden will propose, though it’s likely to be pretty standard Democratic fare that rejects some of the more ambitious goals other candidates have embraced. But Biden represents something more fundamental: a link to the politics and political style of the past.”

Rebecca Traister, The Cut: “Much of what Democrats blame Republicans for was enabled, quite literally, by Biden: Justices whose confirmation to the Supreme Court he rubber-stamped worked to disembowel affirmative action, collective bargaining rights, reproductive rights, voting rights. . . . In his years in power, Biden and his party (elected thanks to a nonwhite base enfranchised in the 1960s) built the carceral state that disproportionately imprisons and disenfranchises people of color, as part of what Michelle Alexander has described as the New Jim Crow. With his failure to treat seriously claims of sexual harassment made against powerful men on their way to accruing more power (claims rooted in prohibitions that emerged from the feminist and civil-rights movements of the 1970s), Biden created a precedent that surely made it easier for accused harassers, including Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh, to nonetheless ascend. Economic chasms and racial wealth gaps have yawned open, in part thanks to Joe Biden’s defenses of credit card companies, his support of that odious welfare-reform bill, his eagerness to support the repeal of Glass-Steagall.”
One of Biden’s illuminating actions came last year in Michigan when he gave a speech— for a fee of $200,000 including “travel allowance”— that praised the local Republican congressman, Fred Upton, just three weeks before the midterm election. From the podium, the former vice president lauded Upton as “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.” For good measure, Biden refused to endorse Upton’s Democratic opponent, who went on to lose by less than 5 percent.

Biden likes to present himself as a protector of the elderly. Campaigning for Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida last autumn, Biden denounced Republicans for aiming to “cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.” Yet five months earlier, speaking to the Brookings Institution on May 8, Biden spoke favorably of means testing that would go a long way toward damaging political support for Social Security and Medicare and smoothing the way for such cuts.

Indications of being a “moderate” and a “centrist” play well with the Washington press corps and corporate media, but amount to a surefire way to undermine enthusiasm and voter turnout from the base of the Democratic Party. The consequences have been catastrophic, and the danger of the party’s deference to corporate power looms ahead. Much touted by the same kind of insular punditry that insisted Hillary Clinton was an ideal candidate to defeat Donald Trump, the ostensible “electability” of Joe Biden has been refuted by careful analysis of data.

As a former Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and a current coordinator of the relaunched independent Bernie Delegates Network for 2019, I remain convinced that the media meme about choosing between strong progressive commitments and capacity to defeat Trump is a false choice. On the contrary, Biden exemplifies a disastrous approach of jettisoning progressive principles and failing to provide a progressive populist alternative to right-wing populism. That’s the history of 2016. It should not be repeated.

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Is The DCCC Salvageable-- Or Does It Have To Be Dismantled And Begun Anew?


The joke's on us

I’d like to take at least a little credit for preventing Debbie Wasserman Schultz from becoming DCCC Chair after Rahm. If you ask her, she’ll tell you that I got her fired as chair of the DCCC recruitment committee. She actually asked a friend of mine in Congress what it would take to get me to stop writing about her. Her pathway to greatness was through the DCCC chair and she was absolutely a Rahmish fave— both being hard core corrupt New Dems beloved by the Wall Street bankster elites. Between she refused to embrace 3 Democrats running in her south Florida neighborhood against 3 GOP incumbents she was palsy-wallsy with— this as chair of the recruitment committee— even Rahm knew the pressure from the net roots wasn’t going away till she did. So she was demoted and told to stay out of sight.

In truth though, it was Pelosi, who hates Wasserman Schultz for her own reasons, not me, who blocked her path towards caucus leadership and kept her away from the DCCC chair. Obama rescued her faltering spirit though by making one of his worst decisions— and he made so, so many: making her chair of the DNC. Let’s not relitigate that right now. Instead, I want to stick with the DCCC. Many people always ask if Cheri Bustos is the worst DCCC chair ever. It’s too early to tell, but she’s definitely going down as one of the 3 or 4 worst. A complete protégée of Emanuel, she’s an ideological monstrosity, spending every working moment plotting how to disadvantage progressive candidates and how to discourage democracy itself. She shouldn’t even be in the Democratic Party, let alone leading one of its arms.

The DCCC has a long and sordid history of incompetence, corruption, failure and general disgustingness that goes right back to 1866 when it was founded. The first chairman set the tone for the impossibly incompetent organization House Democrats depend on today. Chairman #1, James Rood Doolittle of Wisconsin, didn't quite know what he was politically. He started as a Democrat, then switched to the Republicans and then switched back to the Democrats. He was also a prominent opponent of the Fifteenth Amendment, the one that gave former slaves U.S. citizenship. He was such a lousy chairman (1868) that they operated without one for a decade after.

During the Roosevelt years the Committee started gaining prominence and clout. Joseph Byrnes (D-TN) was chairman from 1928-1935, during which time he was also House Majority Leader. In 1935 he was elected Speaker and died a year later. After Byrnes became Speaker, Patrick Henry Drewry (D-VA) got the job and died 12 years later, still DCCC chair. If you think 12 years is long, Drewry was followed by Michael Kirwan (D-OH) in 1947, the first northern Democrat to get that job. He was also a liberal and-- no coincidence-- a gigantically successful DCCC chairman. They were back to conservatives after Kirwan died, although his successor, Michael Feighan (D-OH) was defeated in a primary almost as soon as he was named DCCC chairman. He was followed by the legendary Boston liberal Democrat Tip O'Neill (1971-1973). 1972 was the year of Nixon's landslide reelection and the Democrats lost 13 seats in the House (even though 37,071,352 voters picked Democratic House candidates and only 33,119,664 voters picked Republicans. Yes, the GOP has been surviving on gerrymandered districts for a long, long time). O'Neill was Majority Whip while he was DCCC Chair and became House Majority Leader right after the 1972 elections (and then Speaker 4 years later).

The congressman who turned the DCCC into an arm of Wall Street and Big Business was Tony Coelho (D-CA). He ran the committee from 1981 to 1987, after which he was elected House Majority Whip, a position he held until he resigned in a financial corruption scandal with a crooked bankster.

The DCCC gained a great deal of influence in 2004 when campaign finance reform gave party committees immense power over campaign cash. Since then, they have never had a good chairman. Rahm Emanuel set the authoritarian tone but stuck closely to Coelho's posture of scraping and bowing before Wall Street. Emanuel helped elect a lot of corporate whores from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in 2006, as did Chris Van Hollen in 2008, almost all of whom were defeated in 2010. Democratic voters, having caught on to the bait-and-switch tactics, have been refusing to come out to vote for these conservative incumbents calling themselves Democrats. Many feel that Steve Israel was the culmination of that policy, the worst DCCC chairman since Doolittle. He trained the next disaster, Pelosi sock puppet, Ben Ray Luján, who did a wretched job and is now running for the Senate. And then came Bustos, well on her way to outpacing Luján and even Israel in terms of horribleness.

A congressmember asked me if there’s ever been a good DCCC chair— which is how I came to know about Michael Kirwan. That same member who asked me about the chairmen also told me that the DCCC had been pressuring him (this was in 2016)— or twisting his arm-- to endorse wealthy corporate Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi over progressive state Senator Mike Noland in IL-08. At the time, I warned progressives who were being asked by the DCCC to endorse Krishnamoorthi that they needed to be aware that, despite his willingness to say what anyone wants to hear, he is not, has never been and never will be a progressive. A DINO, Krishnamoorthi was a job outsourcer who was one of the authors of a white paper, The Pros and Cons of Privatization, for Government Finance Review (June 2011) in which it's literally impossible to recognize the voice of a Democrat at all.

  First off, he praised privatization under Ronald Reagan. The paper states:
The present wave of privatizations can also be viewed in the context of the broader liberalization programs ushered in with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and to a lesser degree by Ronald Reagan in the United States... Poorly run private businesses must fix themselves or perish; state-run enterprises face no such constraint... Reagan similarly made privatization a theme of his presidency, describing the 1987 divestment of Conrail, a large freight railroad, for $1,575 billion as "the flagship of privatization and the first of what we hope will be many government functions returned to their rightful place in the private sector."... Today, much empirical evidence supports the claim that private companies are generally more efficient operators than government entities. The reasons for this are various and include management incentives tied to performance, a better capacity to fund capital investments, greater operating leverage, the introduction of proprietary technology, and the de-politicization of pricing and other operational decisions (e.g., raising tolls or cutting money-losing routes).
Yeah, that's the candidate the DCCC was boosting in 2016— and that’s who the Democratic establishment is readying for the next Illinois U.S. Senate seat. Since getting elected, Krishnamoorthi, a New Dem, of course, has lived up to expectations. He represents a safe blue district west of Chicago from Elk Grove Village through Schumburg out to Elgin (PVI is D+8 and Trump only managed to win 36% of the vote there) but still earned a lifetime crucial vote score of “F.” He spends all his time raising money from corporations and business executives, even though he has no worries about reelections. In 2018 he raised $5,242,332, while his GOP opponent raised $54,520. His biggest contributors are from the Health Industrial Complex, from lawyers and lobbyists and from Wall Street. Back to his paper:
Private operators can do things that politicians are unwilling or unable to do, such as raise tolls or parking fees. This can actually work to the public's advantage because the price of a privatization deal reflects these additional revenues that will be recovered by the private operators." That's a perfectly Republican perspective and Raja continued that "The less obvious reality is that in the absence of those revenues-- if a privatization deal is not done-- a government must implicitly choose a different course... If the goal is to finance some level of spending, then whatever revenue does not come from privatization must come from somewhere else. One likely source of 'somewhere else' is higher taxes, which is both politically unpopular and can have adverse economic consequences in the long run... At bottom, [privatization] is just math.
Yeah, math that Grover Norquist— and Chuck Schumer— would just love.

Problem Solvers? Gottheimer und Trumpanzee

Sorry for the tangent. Back to the DCCC— kind of. There was a worse choice than Bustos the Dems could have made: Josh Gottheimer, Blue Dog, New Dem, an abusive boss, an unrepentant reactionary and chair of Mark Penn’s misnamed Problem Solver’s Caucus. There is a case to be made that Gottheimer is the worst Democrat in Congress, a nexus of corruption and reactionary politics. Friday, reporting for The Intercept, Ryan Grim and Aída Chávez, wrote that warned Pelosi and Hoyer that he had collected enough votes to kill a bill mandating better conditions for the kidnapped children in the Trump concentration camps. He didn’t have to twist their arms to hard for them to embrace his proposal and cave, screwing over the toothless Congressional Progress Caucus again.
The House amendment would have taken away money from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and increased protections for children, among other oversight provisions. The Senate passed its version of the $4.6 billion emergency bill on Wednesday 84-8. A vote on the House version of the spending bill was beaten in the Senate 55-37, largely along party lines, with the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders missing the vote. The Senate’s vote meant House Democrats would have had to hold out to pressure the upper chamber to accept its version, while Gottheimer’s move sapped the House’s leverage. “The quote-unquote Problem Solvers Caucus, I think, threw us under the bus and undermined our position to actually be able to negotiate,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).

“Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?” asked Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Wouldn’t they want to at least fight against contractors who run deplorable facilities? Kids are the only ones who could lose today.”

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar joined Pocan in slamming the move, saying that a vote for Mitch McConnell’s border bill “is a vote to keep kids in cages and terrorize immigrant communities.”

When asked what Gottheimer’s objection to the House border bill was, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal said it came down to “not giving as much ICE money as the Senate did.” She added that a bigger problem stemmed from the Senate Democrats putting them in a “terrible position” in the first place by voting on a bill that “does nothing to hold a rogue agency accountable for its cruelty,” doesn’t have any provisions to “ensure the money actually goes to the children,” or that “these for-profit agencies are held accountable.” She described herself as a “giant no” on the bill.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also recommended the House vote against the Senate border spending bill, saying the Republicans “cannot force us to accept this bill, which does not provide necessary guardrails” and allows the Trump administration to “continue denying kids basic, humane care and endangering their lives.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noted that the Senate didn’t even bother negotiating with the House. “We have time,” she said in a tweet. “We can stay in town. We can at LEAST add some amendments to this Senate bill. But to pass it completely unamended with no House input? That seems a bridge too far.”

The House failure led to widespread recriminations. Jayapal, Pocan, the CPC, and the CHC were blamed for urging House Democrats to pull out of negotiations with the Senate earlier this spring; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took heat for agreeing to a weak bill that left children vulnerable to abuse; Pelosi was slammed for caving; and Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers Caucus was widely derided for its unhelpful intervention. “The capitulation by the Problem Solvers and the Blue Dogs gave us no leverage here,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (R-AZ).

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, and DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos voted in favor of the bill, while other members of leadership, including Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, and Assistant Democratic Leader Ben Ray Luján, who is running for Senate in New Mexico, voted against it.

Goal Thermometer“We need a bill that delivers funds to end the humanitarian crisis,” Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib said on Twitter. “Not funds to continue caging children & deny asylum seekers the help they need. Not funds to continue the harmful policies. If you see the Senate bill as an option, then you don’t believe in basic human rights.”
So, yeah, he might have been worse than Bustos— by a smidge. Anyway... any interest in fighting back? Despite Bustos' hysterical fits, more activists than ever are running in primaries against her vile pack of Blue Dogs. There should be at least a dozen viable contests this cycle and even more in 2022. The Blue America 2020 Primary A Blue Dog thermometer on the right is where you can contribute to vetted progressives who are challenging Bustos candidates. Expect more candidates by next month but, for now, please consider helping these progressive replace the garbage Bustos is flinging our way.

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Jimmy Carter Is Saying Out Loud What We All Know: Trump Is An Illegitimate President


Thursday former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Walter Mondale, were in Leesburg Virginia for an⁩ event hosted by presidential scholar Jon Meacham on human rights. Carter responded to a question by Meacham by pointing out what politicians are too scared to address, namely that a full investigation “would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016… He was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

Mondale didn’t go quite that far, simply noting that Trump’s “got something deep in him that is detestable, citing “his rhetoric, his harshness, his divisiveness… Doctors tell me they think they recognize symptoms of psychological problems.”

Carter also said that “every day we send a terrible signal” with border policy, “a disgrace to the United States, and I hope it will soon be ended. Maybe not until the 2020 election.”

Meanwhile Trump is at a G20 meeting in Japan, sniffing Putin’s asshole. They were seated next to each other at dinner when a reporter asked Trump if he would tell "the Russian president to not meddle in the election." Trump, without looking at Putin, responded, "Of course I will. Don't meddle in the election, president. Don't meddle in the election." Ha, ha… big funny! And… the illegitimate "president" lashed out from the summit. "He’s a nice man. He was a terrible president," said Trumpanzee at a press conference. "He’s been trashed within his own party. He’s been trashed… Everybody now understands that I won not because of Russia, not because of anyone but myself. I went out and campaigned better, smarter, harder than Hillary Clinton." The use of the word "everybody" is a typical example of Trumpian gas-lighting, a technique he uses to manipulate his base of 2-digit IQ supporters.

But what if it is indisputably proven that Trump is an illegitimate "president?" Does that mean Bernie gets to fire Gorsuch and Kavanaugh? They’re illegitimate Supreme Court justices if they were appointed by an illegitimate "president," no? And 41 judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals and 80 judges to U.S. District Courts. Let’s take the 9th District, which has jurisdiction over California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Montana. How much better off would that Court of Appeals be without right-wing extremists Mark Bennett, Ryan Nelson, Eric Miller, Bridget Bade, Kenneth Lee, Daniel Collins and Daniel Bress (not confirmed yet)? Same goes for the 7th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Trump packed it with far right whackadoodles: Amy Coney Barrett, Michael Brennan, Michael Scudder and Amy St. Eve. The other big Midwest Circuit— the 6th— is even worse off. The 6th has jurisdiction over Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan. And Trump put half a dozen judicial psychopaths on the bench there so far: Amul Thapar, John Bush, Joan Larsen, John Nalbandian, Chad Readler and Eric Murphy.

At the second Democratic debate, Bernie said he doesn’t support packing the Supreme Court but brought up the idea of rotating judges off the Supreme Court. I had never heard of that before and wasn’t sure what it meant but it doesn’t sound particularly constitutional to me. I like the idea of just saying, "look, Trump wasn’t elected; he was put in the White House by Russia. He was an illegitimate president so everything he did was illegitimate. Let’s start with Gorsuch and Kavanaugh  and work our way down."

Bettina Hubby

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